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State agencies host first of opioid abuse town hall meetings

Officials with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Region 8 Mental Health Services and the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence hosted a town hall meeting regarding the uprising of opioid abuse in Mississippi at the Brandon Civic Center on Tuesday.

This was the first of what could be 18-20 events in the state to address the public on the dangers of opioid and heroin abuse.

Lieutenant John Harless with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics explained the growth of opioid use in the State of Mississippi.

“Prescription drugs are preferred, and drug dealers know that,” said Harless. “What we’re seeing is drug dealers taking fetanyl and cornstarch and using a pill press to make it in pill form, and they’re selling it.”

Fetanyl, specifically fake or illicit fetanyl, is so powerful that simply touching it can lead to overdose or death.

Harless added that in Mississippi, no two officials can tell you the same thing about who is abusing opioids in the state.

“One may say it’s the 16 year-old high school kid,” said Harless. “Or the dad with two kids, who threw his back out playing ball with his son or daughter, and then got addicted to the prescription.”

Harless ran down a few other quick facts regarding the influx of opioid abuse in Mississippi:

  • Every 25 minutes, a baby is born in the United States addicted to opioids. During withdrawal, those babies stay in the hospital an average of 16 days, four times the amount of well babies
  • Heroin use is up 2,000 percent in Mississippi since 2013
  • Mississippi is 5th in the nation for hydrocodone prescription abuse
  • 91 deaths a day occur from opioid abuse–taking the top spot of cause of death away from vehicle accidents

During the town hall question and answer portion of the meeting, people from the community were able to discuss their concerns with opioid abuse in their community. One mother, a drug and alcohol addict herself, described the story of not only dealing with the pain of addiction, but watching her son suffer as well.

“I felt ashamed,” said Aden Giles. “I had it all–the perfect family, the perfect career. So I just isolated myself. I left my husband and kids because I couldn’t take care of them.”

Here’s more from the event Tuesday night:

 

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